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How do I Become a Nephrologist?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Nephrologists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney-related diseases. They test blood and urine samples, analyze the results of imaging scans, and administer the appropriate medications or physical treatments. The practice of nephrology is very complex, and doctors must complete several years of education and training to prepare for the profession. A person who wants to become a nephrologist is required to graduate from an accredited medical school, complete a three-year internal medicine residency, and participate in a specialized nephrology fellowship. During training, a doctor must also pass a series of national licensing exams to officially become a nephrologist.

An individual who wants to become a nephrologist can begin his or her educational path by enrolling in a four-year bachelor's degree program. Most hopeful doctors major in premedical studies or biology to gain a fundamental understanding of human health, anatomy, and physiology. In the third or fourth year of a degree program, a student can begin looking into different medical schools and take a national medical college admissions test.

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Medical schools tend to be very selective, and students with the strongest grades, standardized test scores, and recommendation letters are the most likely to be accepted. Once a person is able to enroll in a school, he or she can meet with professors and advisers to determine the best path to become a nephrologist. Most medical school programs take about four years to complete and include classroom, laboratory, and clinical internship activities. A student is usually expected to conduct independent research on a topic related to medicine and compose a detailed dissertation in order to earn a doctoral degree.

After completing medical school, a new doctor can apply for residency positions at general hospitals. Most internal medicine residencies last for about three years and provide doctors with the opportunity to practice under the supervision of established physicians. A new doctor is exposed to a variety of patient types and conditions in order to gain valuable practical experience. In addition to treating patients, a resident continues to take courses and conduct research throughout the program. At the end of a residency, a doctor takes an exam administered by a national board to earn internal medicine physician credentials.

Many doctors begin practicing right away after earning their licenses, but a person who wants to become a nephrologist usually needs to enter an additional two- to three-year training program. During a fellowship, a doctor gets to work alongside experienced nephrologists in a hospital or specialty clinic. He or she has the chance to become familiar with common kidney problems and the best ways to diagnose and treat them. In most countries, a successful physician is required to pass another exam upon completion of a fellowship to earn a nephrologist license. After earning a license, a doctor can begin working independently in a hospital, clinic, or private practice.

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